The dragon has lost its place in heaven. With great wrath, he goes down to the earth and the sea to persecute the woman and her offspring. In chapter 13, John sees two beasts which have great power over the inhabitants of the earth and ruthlessly persecute God’s people. Together, the beasts challenge the authority of God. But, as we will see in later chapters, their destiny is the final destruction.
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1. Sea (13:1): “The beast… has already been described in 11:7 as rising from the ‘Abyss’ (cf. 17:8). Thus the sea may symbolize the Abyss, the source of demonic powers that are opposed to God (cf 9:1; 20:1-3)… This view agrees with the OT images of the sea as the origin of the satanic sea monsters—the dragon (Tannin), Leviathan (“Coiled One”), and Rahab (“Rager”) (Job 26:12-13; Pss 74:13-14; 87:4; 89:10; Isa 27:1; 51:9; cf. also Ezek 32:6-8).” [ref]
- The Sea Beast (13:1-10)
- His appearance (13:1-2)
- His miraculous healing and the people’s worship (13:3-4)
- His blasphemy against God (13:5-6)
- His power over the saints and authority over the earth (13:7-8)
- Call for patience and faith (13:9-10)
- The Earth Beast (13:11-18)
- Its appearance and voice (13:11)
- His authority and deception (13:12-15)
- Mark and number of the beast (13:16-18)
How were the two beasts related to the dragon of chapter 12? How were they related to each other?Hide Answer
Both beasts received their power and authority from the dragon and acted as the dragon’s instruments (2,7,12,15). The earth beast did his work on behalf of the sea beast, so that the people of the earth would worship him and his image (12,14).
How did the beasts persecute and overcome the saints?Hide Answer
They caused those who would not worship the image of the beast to be killed (15). They also did not allow anyone who did not receive the mark of the beast to buy or sell (17). These beasts had been given authority to harm the livelihood and physical bodies of the saints (cf. Mt 10:28).
Record an earlier reference to this beast in Revelation. What was the origin of this beast?Hide Answer
11:7. The origin of the beast is the bottomless pit, meaning that the source of his power is Satanic.
Describe the sea beast.Hide Answer
He had seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. He was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion.
Compare this beast with the four beasts in Daniel 7.Hide Answer
1) The four beasts also came up from the sea.
2) The beast in Revelation had the appearance of three of the beasts combined.
3) The fourth beast also had ten horns, and one of them spoke pompous words against the Most High. It made war with the saints and prevailed against them.
What do the beasts in Daniel 7 represent? What do you think the sea beast in Revelation might represent?Hide Answer
The beasts are four kings which arise out of the earth (Dan 7:17). Likewise the sea beast in Revelation, having similar powers and appearance as the four beasts in Daniel, should also represent either an individual or all political powers that defy God and His authority (cf. 2Thess 2:3-12).
What do the beast’s appearance suggest about the nature of the beast?Hide Answer
Like leopards, bears, and lions, the beast is powerful and brutal. It is possible that such power stands for military and political oppression with which Satan persecutes and kills believers.
Who worshiped the beast? Why did they worship him?Hide Answer
All who dwell on the earth will worship him (3,8). They worship him because they marvel at the beast’s power and miraculous healing (3,4).
What were the activities of this beast?Hide Answer
He spoke great things and blasphemies, and he blasphemed against God (5,6). He made war with the saints and overcame them (7).
How long will his blasphemy last? Does this coincide with any time reference we have seen before?Hide Answer
42 months (5). This period coincides with the Gentiles’ treading of the holy city underfoot (11:2). This 3 1/2 period should be the second half and most intense part of the tribulation (cf. Dan 9:27).
According to the description of the beast and its activities, what does the word “blasphemy” mean?Hide Answer
On one level, the beast’s blasphemy refers to words spoken against God. On a deeper level, his blasphemy is a direct challenge to God’s authority. In the previous chapter, the dragon was cast down from heaven. He no longer had power in the heavenly places or over the spiritual lives of the saints. In great fury, he spoke against God’s name, His tabernacle and those who dwell in heaven (6). In desperation, he claimed authority on earth and brutally attacked the believers. By causing the inhabitants of the earth to worship him and by persecuting the people of God, the beast seems to be making a statement that he is still in control.
Looking at the world today, in what ways do you think the beast blasphemes God and makes all nations worship itself and the dragon?Hide Answer
From world history, we see the emergence and dominance of great powers sustained by ideologies such as atheism, socialism, and communism. Even in the free countries, social and political powers reinforce and even uphold immoral and godless values.
What is the significance of “names written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world”?Hide Answer
God has predestined to save us through Christ before the foundation of the world (1Cor 2:7; Eph 1:4-11; Mt 25:34). Those whose names are written in the Book of Life of the Lamb are believers in Christ, who have the life of Christ and whose lives are hidden with Christ in God (Col 3:3,4). Through Christ’s sacrifice, they are kept by God for eternal life, safe from the hand of the evil one (cf. 1Jn 5:11-12,18; 1Pet 1:4-5).
How are verses 9 and 10 different from the previous verses and why are they inserted here?Hide Answer
These two verses seem to be a comment on the vision of the beast. They serve to encourage the saints in suffering to endure and hope for God’s final vindication. Those who persecute them will themselves “go into captivity” and be “killed with the sword.” The sentence “here is the patience and the faith of the saints” implies that believers must wait with patience and faith for God’s vindication rather than take vengeance for themselves. God will surely repay the evildoers in due time.
How do you prepare yourself to withstand the works of the beast?Hide Answer
The works of the sea beast will be a severe trial on the saint’s patience and faith. We must constantly examine our faith in the Lord (2Cor 13:5). We must also be determined to be faithful unto death (Mt 24:13; Rev 2:10). An unswerving faith in the Lord without fear of death will enable us to overcome the beast (cf. Rev 12:11).
What clues suggest that this beast from the sea represents a false prophet? (cf 16:13; 19:20; 20:10)Hide Answer
He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon (11). This may suggest that he had the appearance of Christ to cover up his Satanic teachings (cf. Mt 7:15). Unlike the sea beast, which used brute power, the earth beast used deception (13,14), and deception is what characterizes false christs and false prophets (Mt 24:24).
What are the works of this beast?Hide Answer
He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence and caused the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. (12,13). He deceives those who dwell on the earth, telling them to make an image to the beast (14). He has power to give breath to the image of the beast (15). He causes all to receive the mark of the beast, without which no one can buy or sell (16,17).
Do you see such religious power at work today? Why does Satan use religion as an instrument in the last days?Hide Answer
While Satan uses secular or political powers to rule in the world and oppress God’s people (sea beast), he also uses false religion and teachings as his other instrument (earth beast), which is much more subtle but just as deadly. Religion is a powerful motivator; that is why many commit serious crimes in the name of religion. False teachings are deceptive; they fool people into thinking that they are worshipping God, but lead people into idolatry and destruction in hell (14:11). Even today, we can see the prevalence of false teachings that alter the gospel of salvation or serve as a means of monetary gain or indulgence in sinful desires. The false prophets not only mislead the people of the world, they also collaborate with the sea beast to persecute and kill God’s faithful children (13:15-17).
Read 15:2 about the number and the name of the beast. Also compare the name of the beast with the name of the Father in 14:1. The number 666 is the number of the name of the beast. What do these tell us about the nature of the number 666? Is this number more than a numeric value?Hide Answer
The saved ones have victory over the beast, his image, his mark, and the number of his name. The number is associated with the name of the beast, and this name is given to beast worshippers rather than the followers of the lamb. This suggests that the number is not just a numeric value but a power of evil which we must overcome. It is more likely that the number is symbolic of evil forces rather than referring to a specific individual.
What does it mean that the number is also the number of a man?Hide Answer
It may mean that the works of the beast take place in the sphere of humanity. In other words, men will be the instruments through which Satan works in the world.
If we interpret the number symbolically, and if 7 is a number representing completeness, what would the number 6 suggest? Why 666?Hide Answer
The number 6 may suggest imperfection and sin. The repetition of the number may signify that evil will reach its full measure in this world (cf. 18:5).
What does it mean to receive the mark or number of the beast? How can we keep ourselves from receiving the mark or the number?Hide Answer
Those who receive the mark or the number are those who worship the beast. In other words, if we succumb to the sinful values in this world, we receive the mark and number of the beast. Although the forces of this world are powerful, we must not conform to them. We must live as citizens of heaven, set our minds on things above, persist in our faith in Christ, and be faithful to God’s commands (Phil 3:18-21; Eph 4:17-24; Col 3:1-17).